Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (2015, Henry Holt and Co.; 480 pages)
It has been considered one of the best books released this year and everybody is talking about it. Six of Crows is the beginning of a new Fantasy series written by Leigh Bardugo, who brings us another stunningly compelling story with epic adventure centered around a band of misfits who set out to take on an impossible heist. The premise is this: six young criminals are hired to break into (and then out of) the most secure prison in the world, a premise that compares to that of Danny Ocean and his Ocean's 11.
The world of Six of Crows is set in the universe created in the Grisha Trilogy, but you don't need to read the trilogy in order to enjoy, and love, this book. The novel, set two years after Ruin and Rising, is narrated from the perspectives of 6 of the characters: Kaz Brekker, Inej, Nina, Jesper, Wylan and Matthias.
“Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price–and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…
A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.
Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz’s crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.”
The book starts with a long and somewhat hard to read chapter that serves as a prologue and as an introduction into the universe of the Grisha. I had to fight to finish this first chapter, but once I crossed it, I was in heaven. Heaven is good literature, filled with fantastic and diverse teen characters. Heaven is finding a new fabulous villain to fall in love with. And heaven is to get lost in a plot where the reader simply reads and goes along, enjoying the adventure through the eyes of six different characters- six points of view of six anti-heroes to love.
I want to emphasize that this novel cares about diversity. There is an African-American character, a bisexual character and a gay character. And then, of course, the author chooses to include disability as a main aspect of the greatest protagonist -- for me -- of all. This is something unique and fantastic: a disabled protagonist in genre fiction. We read about PTSD and Kaz, the main protagonist, has chronic pain and a limp from an old injury, and he uses a cane to help him get around. And we also read about one of the characters being dyslexic.
From the NPR review of the book by Jason Sheeha:
"Bardugo has created a grimy fantasy with a thin blank-punk veneer laid over the top. There are knives and rifles, magic and technology — everything mashed together in a jumble of influences that is wickedly attractive because (and not in spite of) the characters inhabiting it so fully. It's a slick trick of world-building that eschews the info-dump (save that first regrettable chapter) in favor of making the world simply the world, defined by the way the characters move through it. The smell of coal smoke in the morning does more to set a scene than 10,000 words describing the industry that produces it."
And Bardugo certainly knows how her world smells.”
Read the book and do it now!
To explore more about the Six of Crows universe, click here.
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Recommended by: Maite
CARRY ON -- a cute and funny ghost story, love story, and mystery all wrapped in one -- with monsters!
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (2015, St. Martin's Griffin; 528 pages)
Rainbow Rowell is one of my favorite authors these days. She writes both for teens and adults. Her book Eleanor and Park is one of the most beautiful stories you'll read, but I won´t write a review about that book because you can find a great review of it at Bookshelf Envy -- our teen reviews blog -- written by wonderful Kaya.
Rowell also wrote Fangirl, giving birth to two great characters named Cath and Levi. I mention Fangirl because Carry On has its origins in that book. In Fangirl, college freshman Cath is famous on the Internet for her Simon Snow fanfiction—written with her twin Wren—but far less capable at interacting with people IRL. Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. Now that they're going to college she is outside of her comfort zone. Simon Snow is definitely staying in her world.
That's Fangirl. Then comes Carry On. Rowell describes it like this: "After I finished writing Fangirl, I kept thinking about Simon and Baz and the World of Mages … I wanted to write more about them, but I didn’t want to write the full series GTL-style. And I also didn’t want to write through Cath’s hands and brain. I wanted to explore what I would do with this world and these characters. So, even though I’m writing a book that was inspired by fictional fanfiction of a fictional series …… I think what I’m writing now is canon."
What is Carry On? The publishers describe the book this way: ¨Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story—but far, far more monsters."
This is a book where fan fiction comes to life, it is a book conceived like a Russian doll, a nest: a book inside of another book inspired by a book outside her book! And it has a connection with Harry Potter! A total winner. It is funny, and clever and the plot evolves around a fun world. Rainbow Rowell has created a world of warm and complex characters, totally charming, opening to the readers the messiness of growing up into themselves.
I recommend ALL of Rainbow Rowell's books. And I recommend you read this one as soon as you can get your hands on it, specially if you are a fan of Harry Potter.
An excerpt about the book written by the author:
"Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything."
Find this title in our catalog: Carry On
Recommended by: Maite
Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti (2015, Simon Pulse; 560 pages)
X-Men meets Heroes when New York Times bestselling author Scott Westerfeld teams up with award-winning authors Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti to create a sizzling new series filled with action and adventure.
This young adult novel got to my hands as an advance reading copy, which I devoured in a few days. The novel is more than 500 pages, but it is very fast-paced and well-written, action-packed as well as humorous. The book was written by three authors, a fact that I usually don’t find very attractive, but they have been able to find a unique and homogenous voice in their communal writing: Scott Westerfeld is the author of the Leviathan series, the first book of which was the winner of the 2010 Locus Award for Best Young Adult Fiction. Margo Lanagan has been publishing stories for children, young adults, and adult readers for twenty-five years, and Deborah Biancotti has written two short story collections: Bad Power and A Book of Endings.
The story follows six American teenagers, all born in the year 2000. They all have some kind of superpower. The powers are all different from one another. These teens have formed a team and call themselves Zeroes (a sarcastic spin on the word “heroes”), and they attempt missions to learn more about their powers. The difference between Zeroes and superheroes is that Zeroes don’t feel in any way like heroes; quite the contrary. Many of them suffer their superpowers, to the point of impacting their lives in very dramatic ways.
The plot is told from six different points of view, each one of them through the eyes of one of the Zeroes.
This book will appeal to fans of super hero fiction and those wanting to read something to forget about daily life chores. I think it will become a popular book/series.
Find this title in our catalog: Zeroes
Recommended by: Maite
THE DIVINERS -- an addictive and terrifying story of young New Yorkers investigating a rash of occult-based murders
The Diviners by Libba Bray (2013, Little, Brown Books For Young Readers; 608 pages)
This book is a paranormal historical novel that would be a perfect read to celebrate the spirit of Halloween and the Day of the Dead. The plot follows seventeen-year-old Evie O'Neill, a young girl in the 1920’s, as she helps her uncle Will - curator of the fictional "Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult" - uncover the killer behind a mysterious series of murders after a spirit named Naughty John is awakened.
The book has been nominated for an Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy as well as a Bram Stoker Award, and was one of the YALSA's picks for "best audiobook of 2012."
Lair of Dreams, the sequel to The Diviners, was released in August of 2015 and is now available at the library!
To read the author’s blog, click here
Find this title in our catalog: The Diviners
Recommended by: Maite
TIM, DEFENDER OF THE EARTH -- a rock'em, sock'em thriller in which the hero is a genetically improved, preadolescent tyrannosaur
TIM, Defender of the Earth! by Sam Enthoven (Razorbill, 2008; 288 pages)
This story features TIM (an acronym for Tyrannosaurus: Improved Model), a YA protagonist, genetically engineered for military use in the United Kingdom. Though designed for exceptional size and strength, Tim is called into service very early in his development, in order to combat a plague of nanobots that threaten to destroy London. With an exciting plot, suspenseful action, poignant reflections on the need for companionship, the interesting juxtaposition of a truly old school hero versus technology's modern day dragon, and the complexities of boy/girl, parent/child, and dinosaur/ human relationships, this book is definitely one for readers to sink their teeth into.
Find this title in our catalog: TIM: Defender of the Earth
Recommended by: Booker T. "Bookzilla" Rex
The Raven Cycle, Book 1: The Raven Boys; Book 2: The Dream Thieves; Book 3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue; Book 4: The Raven King (2016) by Maggie Stiefvater (Book 1: 2012, Scholastic; 468 pages; Book 2: 2013, Scholastic; 453 pages; Book 3: 2014, Scholastic; 405 pages; Book 4: 2016, Scholastic, 400 pages)
The Raven Cycle is a series of four urban fantasy novels (book 4 is scheduled for publication in February, 2016) written by American author Maggie Stiefvater. The series centers around five teenagers from the fictional town of Henrietta, Virginia: Blue Sargent, Richard "Dick" Gansey, Adam Parrish, Ronan Lynch, and Noah Czerny. The teens, interested in the paranormal, are hunting to wake up a sleeping Welsh king by the name of Owain Glyndwr. The book gains its title from the four teen boys in the series, who attend the prestigious private school Aglionby; colloquially, the boys that attend the school are called the "Raven boys." Blue Sargent has always been warned away from the notorious "Raven boys," but when they form a friendship to search for ley lines in Virginia, she finds that they are her best allies.
This is one of my favorite young adult series published in the last few years: a supernatural thriller with fantastic writing, great plot, and complex and rich characters, both female and male. The story’s central myth and lots of paranormal elements such as ghosts, spells, palmistry, tarot-card reading, and sorcery are a crucial part of the plot. This series would appeal to lovers of fantasy, romance, action-adventures, and paranormal mysteries. It is an utterly different and creative work of fiction.
About the author: Maggie Stiefvater is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the novels Shiver, Linger, Forever, and The Scorpio Races. She is also the author of Lament: The Faerie Queen’s
Deception, and Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their two children.
You can visit the author's Web site by clicking here
Read more about the characters here and here
And there is even a playlist!
Find this series in our catalog: The Raven Cycle
Recommended by: Maite
The Apprentice's Masterpiece: A Story of Medieval Spain by Melanie Little (2009, Annick Press; 310 pages)
Fifteenth-century Spain is one of the most enlightened cultures on record - one in which Jews, Muslims, and Christians coexist within an atmosphere of respect. But then Queen Isabella enacts policies that put an abrupt end to the peace, and violence, mistrust and an intolerable intolerance shadow everyone as the Spanish Inquisition takes shape. Ramon Benveniste, a 15 year old, will have to hide a family secret in this fear-filled atmosphere. Ramon belongs to a family of conversos: Jews converted to Christianity. One day a young man is delivered to the door. Amir wears the robe and red patch of a Muslim. Soon, both Ramon and Amir are caught up in dramatic events they cannot escape.
This is a historical fiction book written in an elegant free verse. The theme resonates deeply inside of me, and the story is memorable. The characters capture perfectly well the turbulence of one of the most politically complex and troubling times in human history. We can learn a lot from this book to analyze events happening in our own times.
“The brief narrative poems are small gems of insight and emotion …and resonate with contemporary connections.” — VOYA, 06/08
To read more about the book, click here and here.
Find this title in our catalog: The Apprentice's Masterpiece
Recommended by: Maite
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (2014, Dial Books; 384 pages)
This, the second book by YA author Jandy Nelson was the Winner of the 2015 Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives, wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways ... until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else -- an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah's story to tell. The later years are Jude's. What the twins don't realize is that they each have only half of the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they'd have a chance to remake their world. This radiant novel from the acclaimed author of The Sky Is Everywhere will leave you breathless and teary and laughing -- often all at once.
Art and wonder occupy this book from the very beginning. I love this paragraph written in The New York Times about the book: "Art -- its creation, its importance, its impact on identity and freedom -- is perhaps the central theme of I'll Give You the Sun. The book celebrates art's capacity to heal, but it also shows us how we excavate meaning from the art we cherish, and how we find reflections of ourselves within it. I've always loved this line from Stendahl: 'A novel is a mirror carried down a high road.' Done well, it shows us ourselves even as it moves us forward into new places and new understandings. I'll Give You the Sun is a dazzling mirror, and many grateful teenagers are sure to find themselves reflected in and learning from its pages."
Find this title in our catalog: I'll Give You the Sun
Recommended by: Maite
THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN -- heartbreaking, funny tale of a Native American teen growing up on the rez
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie (2007, Little, Brown Books For
Young Readers; 259 pages)
Alexie tells the story of Arnold Spirit, aka Junior, a budding cartoonist born with "water on the brain," growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Expecting disaster when he transfers from the reservation school to the rich, white school, Junior soon finds himself making friends with both geeky and popular students and starting on the basketball team. Meeting his old classmates on the court, Junior grapples with questions about what constitutes one's community, identity, and tribe. The daily struggles of reservation life and the tragic deaths of several in Junior's life would be all but unbearable without the humor and resilience of spirit with which he faces the world. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.
Find this title in our catalog: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Recommended by: Greg
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